Continuing from previous article…..
In this prose, Master De Qing advises his disciples to live a moderate lifestyle and to maintain a balanced mental state for the best of health. The 8th part goes like this;
and it can be roughly translated as follows;
麝因香重身先死 – musk deer dies due to its musk
This stanza reference the musk deer that is being hunted for its musk. The musk is believed help the musk deer attract a mate. In that sense it is closely related to sexual desire.
In this prose, the master is merely advising his lay disciples not to overindulge in sexual desire.
From a Buddhist perspective, sexual desire is one of the strongest craving in mankind. Although the Buddha does not forbid his lay followers from sex, he did advice us not to overindulge in it.
蠶為絲多命早亡 – silkworm dies because of its silk.
Silk is an item of luxury and it evoke a sense of luxurious enjoyment. The silkworm feeds in a frenzy before cocooning itself. This prose talks about overindulgence in food and other sensual luxuries in life.
Master advices his disciples not to over indulge because it will lead to illness and downfall in life.
In short, the 1st two stanza advices us to live in moderation. Excessiveness leads to poor physical and mental health.
Another interpretation of this first 2 stanza is that;
Master De Qing was advising us not to be envious of luxury. In olden China, wearing perfume made from musk and wearing silk is a luxury. However, both the silkworm and the musk deer meet an untimely death because of their produce. From this point of view, possessing such luxury in life may not be a blessing.
Riches and luxurious living has its own set of problems. Master De Qing offers his disciples an alternate view on life so that we know contentment.
Both interpretation suggest that having riches and luxury may not be a blessing. If we own it, live moderately. If we do not own it, do not despair because of it’s absence.
一劑養神平胃散 – a does of calmness is “平胃散”
平胃散 is a common drug in China for gastric related illnesses.
In this stanza, Master De Qing is extolling the benefit of having a calm and un-troubled mind as the best medicine for our health.
兩種和氣二陳湯 – Two servings of harmony is “二陳湯”
二陳湯 is another type of common medicine in China. Something like aspirin in our modern world.
The world 和氣 denotes a state of harmony and non conflict. A state of peace and tranquility with a touch of joy.
Master deQing once again reference a medicine to explain that a peaceful and harmonious mental state is like good medicine.
In summary, Master advises us not to have excessive craving in life but to maintain a balanced and peaceful mind. That mental state is the best medicine for our health.
That’s my limited translation and interpretation of the 8th prose. (to be continued…..)
醒世歌 (poem of awakening)